» This Story:Read +| Comments

Get Local Alerts on Your Mobile Device

Text "LOCAL" to 98999 to get breaking news, traffic and weather alerts.


Legislators Log Back On To Facebook

Discussion Policy
Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 11, 2009; Page B10

Facebook is returning to the Maryland General Assembly.

This Story

Five days after sparking protests from lawmakers over his decision to block access to the popular networking site from legislative computers, the head of the assembly's information technology office said yesterday that he will reopen access to Facebook in the next day or two.

Director of Information Services Mike Gaudiello told the joint advisory committee on legislative data systems that he has put in place tools to scan legislative computers for the viruses and harmful software that prompted the block and that he is now comfortable allowing Facebook. He warned that he might shut down access again if he believed it posed a risk and said a block on MySpace, also instituted last week, would remain in place.

There had been few complaints about the MySpace restriction, and the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment late yesterday. But lawmakers had howled over the loss of Facebook, which many said they saw as an integral tool for communicating with constituents about action in Annapolis.

As more and more politicians join Facebook -- Gov. Martin O'Malley has a page, as does President Obama -- Maryland lawmakers had complained that the block was out of step with the rest of the country. Neither the U.S. Congress nor the Virginia General Assembly bans the sites.

A group was formed on Facebook to protest the action, called "Maryland General Assembly feels Insecure about Facebook. Puh-leaze!" As of late yesterday, it had 290 members.

Gaudiello said lawmakers and their staff members should find the ban lifted today or Thursday, after he sends a memo explaining new scanning procedures for security.

"If I thought we were still vulnerable, I would not be doing this, regardless of the pressure," he said.

As word of the change trickled out, Facebook users began celebrating. But Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery) noted one downside: "Sadly, by resolving this, we probably have resolved the issue over which we will achieve the greatest national prominence."

» This Story:Read +| Comments

More from Maryland

Blog: Maryland Moment

Blog: Md. Politics

Slots for MOCO? Taxes to balance the budget? Get the latest updates here.

Election Coverage

Election Coverage

Find out who is on the ballot in the next Virginia election.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company